In conversation with Nick Coleman and Professor Raymond MacDonald

Edinburgh City Libraries actively seek to raise awareness of diversity and inclusion in the public arena by participating in various Awareness Weeks throughout the year.

We are honoured to highlight Deaf Awareness Week by hosting an ‘in conversation’ with two highly prominent professionals, whose life and work experiences have enabled them to talk so personally, interestingly and eloquently, that by watching this video you feel like you are all in the room together!

Nick Coleman is a qualified psychotherapist after 30 years spent as a writer and editor on broadsheet newspapers (chiefly Independent and Independent on Sunday) after starting out as a music journalist for NME and Time Out. He has written over the years for The Times, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, New Statesman, US Vogue, GQ etcHe is the author of three books: The Train in the Night: A Story of Music and Loss; Pillow Man (a novel); and Voices: How a great singer change your life (all Vintage/Cape).

Professor Raymond MacDonald – ​after completing his PhD in Psychology at the University of Glasgow, investigating therapeutic applications of music, Raymond worked as Artistic Director for a music company, Sounds of Progress, specialising in working with people who have special needs.  He joined the School of Music in 2012 having worked at Glasgow Caledonian University previously. Between 2012 and 2013 he was Director of Postgraduate Studies and was Head of The School of Music between 2013 and 2016.  As well as working as a saxophonist and composer he is also a Chartered Health Psychologist and has published over 70 papers and co-edited five texts.

We’re delighted to host ‘Coming through it together’ – a conversation around music and deafness between Nick Coleman and Professor Raymond MacDonald.

Choose to challenge – Panel discussion event for International Women’s Day

“A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.
So let’s all choose to challenge.”

Stockbridge Library will host a Panel Discussion for International Women’s Day on 8 March at 6pm on their Facebook page.

Local author and poet Claire Askew will be in discussion with writers Stella Hervey Birrell, Helen Sedgwick and Theresa Muñoz. They will talking about this year’s International Women’s Day theme ‘Choose to Challenge’.

Portrait of Claire Askew
Claire Askew

Claire Askew’s books include the poetry collection This changes things (Bloodaxe, 2016), the multi-award-winning novel All The Hidden Truths (Hodder, 2018), and the creative writing guide Novelista (John Murray, 2020), among others.  She is a former Jessie Kesson Fellow and was Writer in Residence at the University of Edinburgh from 2017 to 2019.  Her next book is the novel A Matter of Time, forthcoming from Hodder in September 2021.

Portrait of Stella Hervey Birrell

Stella Hervey Birrell is an award-winning novelist poet whose debut poetry pamphlet, Parent. Worshipper. Carrion. sold out in a week. She co-parents one trans and one enby child: neither of which would award her for her efforts. She blogs at #atinylife140, tweets as @atinylife140, posts cat pictures on Instagram as stella_hb and can be found on Facebook as StellaHerveyBirrell.

Portrait of Helen Sedgwick

Helen Sedgwick is the author of The Comet Seekers (Harvill Secker, 2016) and The Growing Season (2017). The first of her Burrowhead Mysteries trilogy, When the Dead Come Calling, was published in 2020, with the second, Where the Missing Gather, due in 2021. She lives in the highlands with her three-year-old daughter and five chickens.

Portrait of Theresa Muñoz
Theresa Muñoz

Theresa Muñoz is a Canadian-born poet living in Edinburgh. She is a Research Associate at the Newcastle Centre for Literary Arts at Newcastle University, where she teaches Creative Writing. She has one collection, Settle and has been nominated/shortlisted for a number of prizes. In 2020 she received a Creative Scotland Award to write one of the first poetry sequences on inter-racial couples, entitled ‘Mixed Feelings’.  

Meet the author – an evening with Monique Roffey

An exclusive Edinburgh Libraries online event, celebrating the power of women and writing on International Women’s Day.

Monique Roffey

Join us to celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day with award-winning author Monique Roffey.

Monique Roffey will be reading from and talking about her Costa Book Award winning novel The Mermaid of Black Conch, published by Peepal Tree Press. The judges called The Mermaid of Black Conch, ‘a story of rare imagination and exciting scale – an adventure and a fable, a glorious myth that tells a far bigger story.’

This will be an unmissable treat to celebrate the power of women and writing!

This event will take place online via Zoom starting at 7.30 pm on Monday 8 March 2021.

For more information about the event and to book your free ticket please go to Eventbrite.

A selection of Monique Roffey titles, including The Mermaid of Black Conch are available to borrow as ebook or eaudiobook and print for Edinburgh Libraries members. 

Edinburgh Libraries are celebrating World Book Day and International Women’s Day – March 2021

March gets off to a busy start with Edinburgh Libraries! Here’s our programme of activities for World Book Day and International Women’s Day. We hope can join us!

World Book Day – 4 March 2021

Battle of the books on the Children and Young People’s Facebook page
A battle like no other… For World Book Day, eight of Edinburgh Libraries’ finest storytellers go head-to-head, Mon 1 March -Thurs 4 March. Watch the reading battles and vote for your favourites to decide the champion!

Our School Libraries
Every day from Monday 1 March – Thursday 4 March, pupils will be invited to take part in a Book-Off of Carnegie Medal Prize nominees. Two previous year’s nominees will be pitched against each other and pupils asked to vote for their favourite. The winning book from each day will move forward to the final on Friday where pupils will be asked to vote for their overall winner. School Librarians will also be offering activities and quizzes for pupils to try during online learning.

Look out on Morningside Library and Newington Library Facebook pages for children’s activities and quizzes during the week.

Ratho Library Chatterbooks reading group is also celebrating World Book Day with a dress-up challenge.

International Women’s Day – 8 March
A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.  So, let’s all choose to challenge.

Women in Football
Our School Librarians will be hosting a video Q & A with Fiona Brown, who plays as a forward for FC Rosengård in the Damallsvenskan and the Scotland national team.
Our Librarians and Sports departments have gathered questions from pupils to be put to Fiona in a pre-recorded video.
Look out for this video going live on Monday!

Panel Discussion Event, 8 March at 6pm on Stockbridge Library’s Facebook page
Local author and poet Claire Askew will be in discussion with writers Stella Hervey Birrell, Helen Sedgwick and Theresa Muñoz. They will be talking about this year’s International Women’s Day theme, ‘Choose to challenge’.

Local author Elaine Gunn, 8 March at 7pm
Ratho Library had a lovely chat with author Elaine Gunn about her feminist fairy tales, The Silver Moon Storybook. Watch Elaine talk writing, fairy tales, feminism and more on Ratho Library’s Facebook page.

Meet the Author – An Evening with Monique Roffey, 8 March at 7.30 – 8.30 pm
An exclusive Edinburgh Libraries online event, celebrating the power of women and writing on International Women’s Day.
Monique Roffey is an award-winning Trinidadian-born British writer of novels, essays, a memoir and literary journalism, a Senior Lecturer on the MA/MFA in Creative Writing at The Writing School, Manchester Metropolitan University, and tutor for the Norwich Writers Centre. Her seventh book, The Mermaid of Black Conch won the Costa Book of the Year, 2020. It was also short-listed for the Goldsmiths Prize 2020 and longlisted for the Rathbones/Folio Award.
This is an unmissable treat to celebrate International Women’s Day! 
Book your free ticket now via Eventbrite.

International Women’s Day – Live Quiz at 7.30pm
Join Moredun Library for an interactive quiz on Facebook Live to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Join the Facebook event fun

Women: their communities, Monday 8 March
Sighthill Library talked to four amazing women about their work in the Sighthill community. Read about Pat Lee, Gill Dunn, Linda Newlands, and Marjorie Edmondson on Sighthill Library’s Facebook page on Monday 8th March to help us celebrate International Women’s Day and these amazing women.

Ratho Chatterbooks, Tuesday 9 March at 4pm
Ratho Chatterbooks will be celebrating International Women’s Day by using the Little people, Big dreams series of books available to borrow via Overdrive/Libby app. There are some amazing women in this series and Ratho will be asking the group to take some time to interview then write a profile about an amazing woman in their life.

Sara Sheridan – Agatha Christie: from 1950s to the future

News of another fantastic online event this week as part of Book Week Scotland!

Sighthill Library is hosting bestselling writer Sara Sheridan in conversation on Facebook Live. The event will take place on Wednesday 18 November at 7pm on the Sighthill Library Facebook page.

In a talk marking 100 years since the publication of Agatha Christie’s first novel, ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’, Sara Sheridan will discuss the celebrated crime author, and how the 1950s relate to modern day.

The UK’s most borrowed ebook author comes to Edinburgh Libraries!

Gillian Galbraith

We were delighted to see the recent news that Edinburgh-based author Gillian Galbraith was the most loaned ebook author in the UK during the recent lockdown period. This was a remarkable achievement as Gillian beat the likes of Lee Child and Michelle Obama to the top spot.

At 7.30pm on Thursday 19 November we will be welcoming Gillian to talk about her writing, libraries and this fantastic achievement in an online event hosted on Zoom.

An evening with Gillian Galbraith
Gillian, who is author of the Alice Rice series, topped the UK library ebook lending charts with her novel, Blood in the Water. This gripping novel is the first instalment of the Alice Rice mystery series, in which smart and capable detective Alice races against time and an implacable killer to solve a series of grisly murders amongst the professional elite of Edinburgh’s well-to-do New Town.

Join Gillian Galbraith during Book Week Scotland for an event celebrating the power of books and libraries during difficult times. She will be discussing her much-loved protagonist Alice Rice as well as her latest book, a departure from the Alice Rice series, The End of the Line. Chaired by fellow crime writer Alex Gray, whose novel A Small Weeping  was the 4th most loaned adult ebook during the pandemic.

An unmissable treat to liven up a cold November evening!

Book your free ticket via the Edinburgh Reads Eventbrite page.

This event will be part of Edinburgh Libraries’ Book Week Scotland programme, in partnership with Birlinn publishers and supported by Scottish Book Trust.  

Celebrating Book Week Scotland: Climate change and the survival of being

We are delighted to announce an evening with Alastair McIntosh, one of Scotland’s leading writers and an honorary professor of the University of Glasgow, on Wednesday 18 November at 7.30pm.

Alastair McIntosh

Alastair McIntosh’s new book Riders on the Storm (Birlinn 2020) has received critical acclaim as a rigorous but engaging outline of the present science of climate change. But the deeper reason why he wrote it is enfolded in the subtitle: “Climate change and the survival of being”. Both the climate crisis and Covid-19, he says, are wake-up calls to our humanity – a call to deepen our psychology and even spirituality, fresh openings of the way in human consciousness. His other books include Soil and Soul (Aurum 2001) and Poacher’s Pilgrimage (Birlinn 2016).

This event will take online via Zoom and at least a third of the time will be given over to audience interaction.

An unmissable treat to liven up a cold November evening!

Book your free ticket on the Edinburgh Reads Eventbrite page.

This event is part of Edinburgh Libraries Book Week Scotland programme, in partnership with Birlinn publishers and supported by Scottish Book Trust.  

Pentlands Book Festival 2020 – full programme now available

The full programme for the online Pentlands Book Festival 2020 has been announced. All events are online and, as always, all are free (although donations are welcomed).

The festival starts on Wednesday 11 November with Scots Makar, Jackie Kay and concludes on Friday 20 November with the dark tale of Burke and Hare.

Wed 11 Nov, 8pm: “Part Fable, Part Porridge” – in conversation with Jackie Kay.

Sat 14 Nov, 8pm: “The good, the good/bad and the crafty”; an online historical walk. 

Mon 16 Nov, 8pm: “Our Future: Perfect or Tense?” Celebrating a community writing project led by Helen Boden, Panashe Nyadundu and Reta MacLennan.

Tue 17 Nov, 8pm: “Journey into the Scottish Diaspora” with Billy Kay.

Thu 19 Nov, 8pm: “The Art of Illustration” with Metaphrog.

Fri 20 Nov, 8pm: “The Story of Burke and Hare – A dark tale!” with Eric Melvin.

Visit the Pentlands Book Festival website for more information, book your tickets via Eventbrite and enjoy!

Pentlands Book Festival 2019

Residents of the Pentlands communities are in for some book treats this Autumn!

This year’s Pentlands Book Festival happens in and around Book Week Scotland (November 18 – 25) in conjunction with Currie, Colinton and Balerno libraries.

Organised by and for the community, the festival brings an eclectic mix of events with something for everyone. From acclaimed Scots Makar Jackie Kay to the comedy and murderous thoughts of Denzil Meyrick and Craig Robertson. The popular scientific supper and local authors event are back, and we’ve visits to the School of Scottish Studies celebrating Hamish Henderson’s centenary and a historical walk along the Balerno Branch line with model railway display and exhibition. We’ve also two workshops – one for writing and one on book illustration.

Tickets are available from the website and the local libraries and it’s all free!
View the full fantastic line-up online at

Scots Makar Jackie Kay will be appearing at the Pentlands Book Festival

Meet the author event: Ambrose Parry

On the 16th October we will be hosting a special author event in the historic Central Library. Come along to the Reference Library to hear Ambrose Parry (Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman), discussing their new novel The Art of Dying. This is the second collaboration from this husband and wife team, following the hugely successful The Way of All Flesh. Their collaboration has created truly addictive historical crime novels, filled with period detail recreating a real feel of Victorian Edinburgh.

Ambrose Parry (AKA Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman)

Chris Brookmyre is the international bestselling and multi-award-winning author of over twenty novels, including Black Widow, winner of both the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Dr Marisa Haetzman is a consultant anaesthetist of twenty years’ experience, whose research for her Master’s in the History of Medicine uncovered the material upon which this novel was based.

The Art of Dying is set in 1840’s Edinburgh, which was at the forefront of modern medicine, thanks in part to Dr James Simpson’s discovery of chloroform. However, when one of Simpson’s patients is found dead in mysterious circumstances, the medical elite, wary of his growing fame, point to Simpson’s reckless use of chloroform as the cause. With their friend’s reputation in peril, Simpson’s protégé Will Raven and former housemaid Sarah Fisher team up to discover the unthinkable truth behind the dead patient as they try to clear Simpson’s name.

Reference Library

This is a late addition to our Libraries Week programme, the theme of which is “Celebrating libraries in a digital world”. We wanted to feature an author who was hugely popular on our ebook and audiobook platforms and Ambrose Parry fitted the bill perfectly! Their first book The Way of All Flesh is available for unlimited downloads in ebook format through OverDrive and audiobook format on RBdigital and has been downloaded over 400 times by our readers. The Art of Dying is now also available as an ebook on OverDrive and in audio format on BorrowBox.

This free event will run from 7-8.20pm on Wednesday 16th October. Booking is essential. Tickets can be booked at EventBrite and the talk from will be followed by a book signing.

Book Week Scotland is coming!

Book Week Scotland is only a week away and the excitement is mounting! There are some fantastic literary events and activities taking place in Edinburgh libraries and school libraries during the week, Monday 19 – Sunday 25 November.

Check out our programme below and grab your tickets fast!

War is Over reading to coincide with Armistice Day
There will be a reading from ‘War is Over’ by David Almond to coincide with the Armistice Day commemorations. There will also be a colouring competition which will include a prize.
Muirhouse Library, Friday 16 November at 3.30pm

Rebel Art activity for children and young people
Come along to Drumbrae Library to help create a graffiti style art banner that will be displayed in the library for the duration of Book Week Scotland. There will also be an ongoing ‘Rebel Art’ station in place in the library for the week where people can add to the artwork and leave comments.
Drumbrae Library, Monday 19 November at 6pm (and then all week).

Wird Hunt!
According to the last national census, around 1.5 million people in Scotland can speak Scots. The Dictionar o the Scots Leid is the definitive record of their vocabulary.
The ‘Wird Hunt!’ exhibition will illuminate the Dictionar’s history as well as that of the language itself. Learn how the Dictionar’s makers keep track of the language in their day-to-day work and discover how their vast collection of quotations richly illustrate a centuries-long tradition of writing in Scots.
Want to help make the Dictionar even bigger and better? ‘Wird Hunt!’ also provides a unique opportunity to work side-by-side with the editors to identify new evidence of Scots vocabulary from a collection of present-day Scots books and poems.
Wester Hailes Library, Tuesday 20 November, 1 – 7pm
Free drop-in activity for adults, refreshments (teas, coffees & biscuits) provided

Memories of Early Granton
The Storytelling Centre and Granton Library are presenting ‘Memories of Early Granton’. Come along and listen to stories about early Granton and, if you’d like to, share a story of your own.
Granton Library, Tuesday 20 November, 6.30 – 8.30pm
Free event, tea and coffee provided

Stuart MacBride – The Blood Road
From Granite City to Auld Reekie – Morningside Library is delighted to welcome Stuart MacBride, creator of Aberdeen’s D.C.I. Logan McRae, as he swaps the oil capital of Europe for Scotland’s City of Literature to promote his latest book, ‘The Blood Road’.
Morningside Library, Tuesday 20 November at 7pm
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite

Wird Hunt!
Another chance to contribute to the The Dictionar o the Scots Leid.
Leith Library, Wednesday 21 November, 1 – 7pm
Free drop-in activity for adults

Sam Conniff Allende – Be more pirate, or, How to take on the world and win 
‘Be More Pirate’ reveals the radical strategies of Golden Age pirates, and updates them into clear solutions for making your mark on the 21st Century. Sam has been a mentor to thousands of young entrepreneurs and is now a sought after public speaker on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Leadership and Youth. Come along and find out how to be more ‘pirate’.
Stockbridge Library, Wednesday 21 November at 6.30pm
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite

M.C. Gladstone – The Moss of Cree: a Scottish childhood

M.C. Gladstone will read from her recently published memoir detailing her childhood experiences growing up in Scotland. The autobiography describes Mary’s evolution from wean on a dairy farm to sophisticate in Paris.
Stockbridge Library, Thursday 22 November at 2.30pm
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite

Write a story: creative writing workshop for imaginative adults

A beginner’s creative writing workshop for adults around the theme of Rebels, facilitated by local author and creative writers groups leader Carla Acheson. No experience required, just enthusiasm!
Stockbridge Library, Friday 23 November at 10.30am
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite.

The Adventures of Justine and Sebastien – children’s storytime

A French storytime for under 8s
Morningside Library, Friday 23 November at 2.30 – 3pm
No ticket required, just come along to the library.

Craft-a-noon for children with a Rebel artist theme: Frida Kahlo

The regular Friday afternoon arts and crafts session for kids at Stockbridge has a rebellious theme this week.
Stockbridge Library, Friday 23 November at 2.30pm
Drop in session, no need to book

Wird Hunt!
Another chance to contribute to the The Dictionar o the Scots Leid.
Craigmillar Library, Saturday 24 November, 11 – 4pm
Free drop-in activity for adults

Robert Louis Stevenson Day 2016

Robert Louis Stevenson Day (#RLSDay) is now an annual date on Edinburgh’s literary calendar when the life and works of one of our City of Literature’s most famous writers are celebrated. The lead up to Stevenson’s birthday on 13 November saw events taking place throughout Edinburgh.

We were privileged on 10 November to host a lecture by the eminent Robert Louis Stevenson expert, Professor Barry Menikoff. We heard a very insightful talk about Stevenson’s book, David Balfour – better known to most of us as Catriona.

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We were also entertained by a scratch company of student actors from Liverpool who performed a dramatized version of Stevenson’s short story Markheim. The first time that a murdered body has been found on one of the Reference Library’s desks!

This event was organised by The Centre for Literature and Writing (CLAW) at Napier University.

Pentlands Book Festival

Currie and Colinton Libraries have got together with the community councils for Currie, Colinton and Juniper Green and come up with another fantastic Pentlands Book Festival programme.

Pentlands Book Festival

The festival kicks off on Friday 11th November and highlights include Alan Bissett’s ‘The Moira Monologues’, Jennifer Robertson and ‘Wotjek the Bear’ and local chef, Ruth Shannon’s who will be ‘Cooking the Book’. Tickets are going fast, so get yours while you can!